So far the biggest challenge of the Alliance Party is to convince voters in the liberal East that party members are more than a bunch of intolerant crackers that they are sensitive, intelligent, and have more on their minds than lowering taxes and repealing laws that require Canadians to register their firearms.
For the first little while they succeeded. In the last federal election, they literally swept the West while making impressive gains in the Eastern Canada. They were young and energetic, thanks to their decision to elect Stockwell Day leader a good looking guy equally at home on a jetski or in a suit and tie.
Despite the fact that a resurgent Progressive Conservative party split the starboard vote in some ridings, the Reform Party slipped into the role of the official opposition like Cinderella into that glass slipper.
The honeymoon was over almost immediately and in the last few months Day has found himself in the centre of a full-scale mutiny. Members of his caucus have openly criticized his leadership, and 13 members (as of earlier this week) have jumped ship and are talking about forming their own official opposition party.
The party executive itself is calling for Days resignation, and in the last week he reportedly reached a deal whereby he would voluntarily take a leave of absence until the next Alliance leadership.
On Monday, after some critics suggested this goodwill overture wasnt good enough, he withdrew his offer and pledged to keep on keepin on until the next party vote in April of 2002. He claimed grass roots support, that the voters were behind him even if the party wasnt this despite the fact that his partys approval rating has been fluctuating between the low teens and an all-time low of 6 per cent.
His decision prompted Alliance co-president Ken Kalopsis and co-chair of the Alliance fund Peter White to quit their executive positions within the party. Although the Alliance is in line for a $6 million tax return, the party will be close to $2 million in debt. Of course theyre blaming Day for poor contributions, and the political uncertainty of the party for making it impossible for the party to get a bank loan.
This much I know because I read the papers and watch the news. What nobody can tell me is what this is all about, and why it couldnt wait until the next election. What did Day do? What did Day say? What could a man who openly admitted that he believes the Earth is 7,000 years old and early man and dinosaurs walked the planet together BEFORE he was elected possibly do to arouse such wholesale contempt?